Paula Miller, Killeen’s longest serving city secretary, made preserving Killeen’s history a hallmark of her 20 years as the city’s chief bookkeeper.
Today, she officially passes the responsibility to the city’s new hire, Dianna Barker, 42, of Salado.
In addition to record keeping, in her tenure, Miller administered 24 elections — including two bond elections, a charter election and a recall — and kept the minutes of 602 Killeen City Council meetings.
As keeper of all important city documents, including ordinances, titles to city property, resolutions and government contracts, Miller treasured most of all the archives of the city’s colorful past.
“I am very protective of my records,” Miller said.
Century in minutes
Historically, city secretary has been one of municipal government’s most important roles.
Before Killeen established its charter in 1947, the city secretary position was elected by voters along with the mayor, aldermen, city attorney, city marshal and city treasurer.
Although the position now is council-appointed — and serves under the city attorney — Miller took to preserving history very seriously.
“My husband and I are big historians,” Miller said. “I know everybody that has served as mayor (at the city of Killeen).”
From taking up the position in 1993, Miller began a career-long project of typing up all of the minutes from the city’s founding in 1893.
“Some of them were hard to read because they wrote different back then,” Miller said.
The documents — now filed on her computer — are full of historical treasures, she said.
One set of minutes note a “committee of one” organized to “talk to a man about his mother’s driving,” Miller said.
“That kind of thing wouldn’t make it into the minutes now,” Miller said.
“But it’s history and you’ve got to get it right.”
Miller worked as a legal secretary for more than 14 years, where she learned to write in shorthand — an old-fashioned form of abbreviated writing.
Long before being hired as city secretary, she worked for the city of Killeen as a legal secretary in 1978 and 1979, where she got the bug for city record keeping.
That experience led her to pursue the opening at City Hall. “I was aware of what the job entailed and thought it would be a good career,” Miller said.
After returning to Killeen, she married Rick Miller, who served as Bell County attorney from 1992 to 2012.
The couple first met at Killeen City Hall, when Rick Miller was Killeen police chief in the ’70s, but it wasn’t until many years later that they would marry.
When her husband retired in December, Paula Miller felt it was the right time to retire as well.
“We are both going to be has-beens,” Miller said,
Miller plans to take cooking classes at Central Texas College and volunteer at the veterinary hospital in exchange for free cat care.
Although no longer required to take notes, Miller plans to continue attending council meetings.
“It is going to seem strange just sitting by the side watching,” Miller said.
Contact Brandon Janes at email@example.com or (254) 501-7552